Despite the weather reports over the weekend suggesting that today would feature some brighter weather it was a cold and rainy morning. Although the rain was nothing compared to the deluge I had to cope with on Saturday, it was far colder, and I had to get my cold weather gear out for the first time.
Reguardless of the weather I made a good start, and was quickly putting miles in the bank – I spent a lot of the morning cycling through some dense forest areas, and I think on a nicer day it might have been a pictuesque ride. As the morning went on the rain stopped, but it was still freezing and I had to deal with a pretty nasty headwind that made for slow progress. I was still cycling through the Ozarks and although the climbs are nothing like as long as those in the Appalacians, they are equally steep. The combination of the wind and the hills made this the toughest day since eastern Kentucky.
I had just hit the 50 miles mark when I heard a tell-tale noise from the back wheel, and new before I looked back that I had broken ANOTHER spoke. It was on the other side of the rear wheel this time, and it didn’t seem to have the impact on my bike that the last one had. Although I have the tools and the spares to fix it, I don’t want to have a go. I’ve never repaired a spoke before, and while I think I could do it, I don’t want to risk it. At least at the moment I have a means of transport, I don’t want to try and mend it and end up stranding myself.
Having looked a the map for bike shops when the last spoke went I knew that there were several shops in Springfield, about 20 miles off route, and beyond Marshfield, the city I had planned to ride to. I had already planned on a 100 mile ride, and knew i had a long afternoon ahead! Although I continued to make good progress I was in a far worse state of mind. This meant that I seemed to be going slower, and every hill became more of a struggle. After I stopped for lunch I felt a bit better – partly due to a full stomach, and partly due to the fact that at least this time I was moving forward rather than having to turn back like last time.
By the time I arrived in Strafford, a suburb of Springfield, I had done 116 miles and was completely exhausted. At least I think that I have put the worst of the mountains behind me now, and that’s encouraging – I’m looking forward to some flat riding in Kansas! I am planning on getting over to the bike shop for opening time tomorrow – 10.00 – and then on trying to get to the bottom of this problem. I don’t think it can be a coincidence that I have broken 2 spokes in 3 days riding having not broken a single one in the previous 3000 miles. I would rather spend a day solving the problem tomorrow than go for a quick fix and have the problem crop up every couple of days. I suppose solving these kind of problems is as much a part of the challenge as doing the miles every day.